Healthcare delivery and broadband internet access have a common problem: neither one serves rural America very well. There are still places in the U.S. where wired broadband service isn’t available. Residents are left to rely on satellite service or cellular solutions. Likewise, many of the same areas do not have easy access to basic healthcare, let alone emergency care.
Thanks to the pandemic (can we say that?) both industries are starting to come to the conclusion that they can help drive one another forward. Better yet, they can meet the needs of rural Americans in the process. That would certainly make a difference in the lives of people who have been largely left behind by the tech revolution.
Promoting Broadband through Telemedicine
Research data consistently shows that a large number of Americans living in rural areas don’t have access to broadband internet. The exact number is not known thanks to different reporting methods. It could be anywhere from 15 million to 42 million, depending on whether or not you believe U.S. census data.
Either way, broadband providers tend to resist expanding service to some rural areas because doing so isn’t profitable. That leaves state and local governments on the hook. Either they have to provide the funding or be content with underserved residents being left out of the broadband world.
A possible solution is to promote broadband access through telemedicine. In other words, push the benefits of telemedicine as a way to improve rural care and reduce healthcare costs. Get states and counties on board with telemedicine and they are more likely to provide the necessary funding to expand broadband service.
More Broadband Equals More Telemedicine
If we can get the ball rolling on expanding broadband by pushing telemedicine, we can get some momentum started. More broadband should equal more telemedicine. As communities gain more access to telemedicine, the healthcare groups, hospitals, and primary care providers that serve rural areas are also likely to jump on board the telemedicine train.
The result is a circular movement in which more broadband equals more telemedicine and more telemedicine encourages further broadband expansion. One feeds off the other in an ongoing cycle that improves both.
Better Telemedicine Solutions
The key to making it all work are better telemedicine solutions. If telemedicine never advances beyond video chats and a few mobile apps for primary care, there will not be much reason for states and counties to invest the millions necessary to expand broadband. The investment will not be worth it.
That means our industry has to step up its game. We must make telemedicine kiosks better. We have to offer more real-time diagnostic solutions that go beyond the simple blood pressure cuff and digital stethoscope. The more technology we can pack into a telemedicine solution, the more likely it is that this solution will be practical in a real-world setting.
Here at CSI Health, we are already thinking in that direction. Our telehealth solutions offer a range of diagnostic capabilities including ultrasound/sonogram and ECG/EKG. Moreover, our cloud-based platform facilitates real-time data transmission. That means doctors are not looking at diagnostic data hours later. They are looking at it as it’s being generated.
Time for Some Teamwork
Rural America is underserved by both telemedicine and broadband. It doesn’t have to be that way. The two industries can change things with a combination of teamwork and innovation. The time to do so is now.
If your organization is looking for innovative telehealth solutions, we encourage you to contact us. In the meantime, here’s hoping that telemedicine and broadband will get together to push one another forward.